August 5, 2008

Despite Setbacks, Crop Still Looking Good

By Mikkel Pates, Agweek Magazine

Aug. 5--Planting in the region is going gangbusters.

In most of the eastern half of North Dakota, small grains harvest is well under way, according to the most recent government reports.

Small grains conditions declined for the fourth straight week, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service; however, small grains development in the "milk stage" was ahead of the average pace. Spring wheat was 59 percent turning ripe, compared with 68 percent the previous year and the 57 percent average over the past five years. Some 55 percent was rated good or excellent.

Corn silking was far behind at 18 percent complete, compared with 77 percent last year and a 61 percent average. Some cattle were sold because of poor pasture conditions and difficulty finding hay, even before the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it wouldn't loosen rules on haying and grazing of Conservation Reserve Program land.

American Crystal Sugar Co. beet producers are seeing another bumper crop, with Roundup Ready beets and a 1X percent reduced acreage from 2007. American Crystal Sugar Co. in its farm shop meetings discussed a 22.7 ton per acre potential crop with 17.9 percent, with samples pulled this coming week.

Here is a summary of the weekly Crop & Pest Report, issued July 30, by the North Dakota State University, followed by reports from farmers in the field:

--Corn growing degree days are 100 to 150 behind average, when a May 1 planting date is assumed. North Dakota locations at Jamestown was 211 GDDs behind and Oakes was 112 GDDs behind average That's about 5 or 10 "July days," behind.

"Generally, yield is not impacted by slow corn development," Joel Ransom, NDSU Extension agronomist says. "In fact, the lack of extremely hot days this summer has probably been beneficial to the crop as far as yield is concerned," Ransom says. The problem is reaching physiological maturity before a killing frost, and the potential for a difficult harvest and expensive drying.

--Soybean aphid is increasing in the central Red River Valley as of July 28, and were increasing or approaching economic thresholds. Fields in the R1-R3 stages may need to be treated.

--Glyphosate-resistant common ragweed "may have been discovered" in the Red River Valley. A field tour is scheduled Aug. 5 near Mayville. The two-hour is 9:30 a.m. From I-29 take Exit 111 and go: 4 miles west on North Dakota Highway 200; north 2.5 miles on County Road 10 (158 Avenue). Among other things, experts will discuss how to control "potential" glyphosaete-resistant ragweed in sugar beet, soybeans and dry edible beans. For weather cancellation information, contact Mohamed Khan, (701) 231-8596 or Kendall Nichols (701) 636-5665.

--Red sunflower seed weevil is emerging. Look for them in the R4 and early-blooming sunflower fields. Scout when plants are showing yellow ray petals (R5.0) NDSU provides a table based on 26 cent per pound oilseed sunflowers. "The current high prices for oilseed sunflowers has lowered thresholds for red sunflower seed weevil!" Janet Knodel, Extension entomologist writes. "Typically, we are at 6-8 weevils per head for the economic threshold; however, thresholds are only at 2-3 weevils per head this year!" On confection sunflower, the threshold is only one weevil per head. One well-timed spray can control both seed weevil and banded sunflower moth -- "usually near 10 percent of the head shedding pollen or R5.1. On banded moth, treatment is directed primarily at egg hatch and the larval stage. Treatment at an earlier growth stage may be warranted if scouting shows earlier-than-normal egg-laying.

--Mustang Max EC Insecticide from FMC has received a Section 24c registration for grasshoppers and other insects in flax. North Dakota farmers can spray through Sept. 1 at 4 fluid ounces per acre, and not within 7 days of flax harvest.

Phosphorus building. Dave Franzen, Extension soil specialist, says economics don't support "building" phosphorus levels on wheat, even with $8 per bushel prices and $1 per pound phosphorus, unless the soil test shows less than 7 ppm. Consider band-applying phosphorus, either with or near seed, and cutting in half the usual recommendations that are often based on broadcast rates.

--On corn, there is a big difference between "industry" and "university" recommendations "with little difference in resulting yield when using either one."


--Darren Meyer, Hope, N.D. -- Meyer and his wife DeAnna raise wheat, soybeans and sunflower. He was spraying Roundup on his soybeans on July 24, and had sprayed soybean aphids the same morning. He's tried a product based on "neem" Southeast Asian tropical tree, but it didn't work for him. On July 30, he was spraying Warrior as rescue, with aphids 150 to 250, and 350 near shelterbelts. "I'm leaving in four days and I don't want them to hit 400 to 500 while I'm gone." He's trying to improve his soil health using the so-called "Albrecht method," which uses tissue tests and soil nutrients tests. "I'm trying to pull this sick. alkaline spots that have been growing in the 1990s, and get it back into shape over the next two or three years," he says. Meyer, a mechanical engineer by training, originally from a hog and grain farm near Marshall, Minn., spent eight years in the Chicago area working in fluid power before he came back his wife's family's farm in 1994.

--Mark Svenningsen, Luverne, N.D. -- Svenningsen farms with his brother, Rod, and is headquartered 3 miles south of Luverne, N.D. They raise soybeans, wheat and corn. Wheat was planted pretty dry this year, but there were good showers after that. "We missed the last few rains so we're a little on the dry side now," Svenningsen said, July 30. He said small plantings of rye should be harvested about Aug. 4 and that spring wheat harvest could start Aug. 10, barring weather delays. He'd seen no aphids in the beans as of July 24, but a general outbreak had hit by July 30, with numbers ranging from 5 per plant to 300 per plant. He figures most of the farmers in his area are going to start spraying when the aphid numbers hit 100 to 200 per plant. With the weather conditions, only about 50 percent of the wheat was probably treated with a fungicide, he said. "We've had a lot of dry mornings," said Svenningsen said.

--Francis Kritzberger, Hillsboro, N.D. -- Kritzberger with his son, Pete, raises corn, soybeans, wheat and sugar beets, about three miles southwest of Hillsboro. "Other than the crop being behind normal" things were looking good as July 30. Wheat maturing in two stages, because of dry early conditions, but looked good, with harvest in mid-August or later. Corn had just started tasseling in the week ending July 26, but that changed quickly to full tasseling and corn height doubled in about two weeks, he said. "Hopefully we can get that average crop this year," he says, noting that expenses for the 2009 crop are getting to be a greater concern. About half of the farm is in soybeans. Kritzberger had mixed in soybean aphid control into his last application of Roundup in mid-July, even though aphid numbers were still relatively low. He following an agronomist's advice to spray Warrior at 25 to 100 aphids per plant levels, hoping for good residual control. "We're not finding any aphids in the beans now," Kritzberger said July 30. He said they might show up again after a 2.5 inch rain. Kritzberger, who is a board member for American Crystal Sugar Co., says it was "fun" to Roundup Ready sugar beets on all of his acres this year. "Normally, we need to 'tease' the weeds to death, with microrates," he says. "The crop looks good." Beet crop samples will be pulled the first week in August to make new yield projections, he said.

--Dean Ostenson, Aneta, N.D. -- Ostenson runs DOT Harvesters, a custom combining business based at the farm a mile west of Aneta, N.D. He says row crops are behind-schedule because of the cool spring and summer.

Back to the region on July 24 from his annual run in Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska, he says the crops this year looked very nice.

"She's trying," he says of the crop. "But if we have an early frost, a guy's going to have trouble."


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